Orthodox Easter in Bulgaria is the most significant holiday in the Bulgarian calendar. Held on April 8th, we had the chance to be invited to celebrate this fabulous event for the first time in the family of our Bulgarian neighbors, Mariana and Mitko, in Pleven.
Easter in Bulgarian is called “Velikden” (Great Day). This celebration is the most important of the events listed in the Orthodox calendar (in front of Christmas). This year, the Orthodox Easter was held on April 8, the last weekend, seven days after the Catholic Easter. For this special weekend, our neighbors Mariana and Mitko proposed us to join them in the Mitko’s family in Pleven for the weekend. A friendly proposal that we could not refuse.
Warmly welcomed by Mitko’s parents, Vesela and Emil, for the Easter day, we sat around the table of the family apartment, on which were arranged many homemade delicious dishes and also family’s rakia and wine.
The extraordinary family explained to us how all the preparation of Bulgarian Easter are organized throughout the previous week, with the coloring of eggs, the cooking of Kozounak, the attendance at midnight mass and the battle of eggs the next day.
The Colored Eggs
According to the Bulgarian tradition, on Thursday, April 5, 2018, Bulgarians start to color the hard-boiled eggs. The first egg should be colored in red. With this red colored hard-boiled egg, the oldest woman, usually the grandmother, makes a sign of the cross on the forehead of the children as a symbol of protection against diseases, and that their cheeks turn red, like the color of the egg. Once the first egg is painted red, the other eggs can be painted according to each artist’s desires. Which can give rise to surprising and funny results. The red egg is kept until the next Easter.
@MadameBulgaria, Orthodox Easter Bulgaria, Pleven, 2018
The Easter bun, Kozunak
On Saturdays, the family cooks the Easter lamb for Sunday, Easter day (Velikden) and Kozunak, the most popular ritual bread of Easter. There is a wide variety of Kozunak, depending on the region. Generally breads are round in shape and are decorated with one or more eggs in the middle, always in even numbers. The Kozunak was prepared by Vesela, the mother of Mitko, and was very delicious and unctuous.
Like Catholics, the Orthodox celebrate two important Masses : one in the night from Saturday to Sunday and one on Sunday morning. The Saturday evening mass is the busiest. There, they buy a candle. At the end of this mass, the Orthodox priest takes out the banners of the Virgin and Christ and goes around the church 3 times. He announces, three times, the resurrection of Christ. We follow him and our candle must remain lit. Going home with the lighted candle is a sign of happiness. At the Mitko’s family, the candle was planted in the lamb on the table.
Battle of colored eggs
At home can start then the battle of the eggs. The last Sunday, with the Mariana and Mitko family, it was our first time that we make a colored eggs battle. One takes one’s egg one’s hand, chooses one person and strikes one egg with the other. Then the eggs are returned and it is up to the other person to hit in turn. Once the egg is broken, we can eat it. The egg that remains whole after confronting all the others and declaring “Boretz” or “Borich”, which means the wrestler. It’s a very fun game for kids but also for adults because we laughed a lot.
It was a wonderful day. Many thanks to Mariana, Mitko and their all family to this very nice moment with them.